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  • Author: César Rodríguez
  • Publication Date: 01-2022
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Fourth Freedom Forum
  • Abstract: This case study summarizes the evidence on the effect on Venezuela’s economic and social conditions of economic sanctions and other actions of economic statecraft taken by the United States and its allies in response to the country’s political crisis. The preponderance of evidence indicates that sanctions and other statecraft measures—including the formal recognition of a government with no de facto control over the territory—have had a strong and significant negative effect on the Venezuelan economy. These actions have made a sizable contribution to declining oil production, exacerbating the country’s fiscal crisis, and contributing to one of the largest documented peacetime economic contractions in modern history. Many arguments commonly voiced to dispute the effects of sanctions, such as those that appeal to temporal precedence of other causes of the country’s crisis, are either factually incorrect or premised on fallacious logic. Reforming the sanctions regime will be a complex task, given the interaction with other statecraft measures and a broader toxification of the country’s economic relations. Reform attempts should include the introduction of an oil-for-essentials program, support for political humanitarian agreements, issuance of clearer compliance guidelines, introducing an explicit differentiation between strategic and nonstrategic sanctions, and seeking multilateral alignment with international actors on key strategic issues including that of government recognition.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics, Sanctions, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela, United States of America
  • Author: Paweł Markiewicz
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy is emerging from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain growth and at the same time achieve climate and technology goals, the Biden administration is pushing large socio-economic programmes. To pass them in Congress, the administration will be forced to reach compromises with factions within the Democratic Party. Biden also will need some Republican support. In foreign policy, these programmes aim to strengthen the U.S. position in its rivalry with China, something that also opens greater possibilities for closer cooperation with the EU.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, COVID-19, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Aldo Ferrari, Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Maxim Matusevich, Marianne Belenkaya, Andrei Kolesnikov, Alicja Curanović, Alexander Graef, Paola Magri
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: What drives Russia’s foreign policy in Vladimir Putin’s times? Why did the Kremlin decide to annex Crimea, occupy South Ossetia, intervene in Syria, or give its blessing to Nord Stream II? When explaining Russia’s foreign policy, the consolidation of Putin’s autocratic tendencies and his apparent stability despite many economic and political challenges have contributed – at least in the West – to an excessive “Putin-centrism” and the relative neglect of other agents of domestic politics. As a result, many facets of the country’s foreign policy decisions are misunderstood or shrouded under a thin veil of vagueness and secrecy. This Report attempts to fill this gap, exploring the evolving distribution of political and economic power under the surface of Putin’s leadership to assess the influence of different “lobbies” on Russia’s foreign policy. Who decides what in Moscow? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not always “Vladimir Putin”. All of the contributions in the volume underline the complexity of Russia’s decision-making process beneath the surface of a monolithic and increasingly personalistic government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Politics, Authoritarianism, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: David Uren
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: hat if China were to attempt to seize Taiwan by force and the US and allies responded militarily? One consequence would be the disruption of China’s trade with many countries, including Australia. While strategic analysts have been working over such scenarios for years, there’s been little study of the likely economic consequences. This study is focused on the short-term shock to Australia’s economy. The objective is to contribute to an understanding of the nature of Australia’s economic relationship with China and the likely paths of adjustment should that trade be severed. It also explores the options available to the Australian Government to ameliorate the worst of the effects of what would be a severe economic shock. The conclusion of this report is that the disruption to the Australian economy would be significant. There would be widespread loss of employment, along with consumer and business goods shortages that would be likely to necessitate rationing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, National Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Stein Sundstol Eriksen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2017–2018, NUPI (the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) headed a project where political economy analyses were undertaken in eleven of Norway’s partner countries. These analyses were published as eleven separate reports. The reports focused on power relations and political developments in the partner countries, but they also analyzed the nature of governance. After the publication of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2019, the MFA approached NUPI and requested that we summarize the findings of this report for Norway’s eleven partner countries and assess these findings in light of the political economy analyses. We were also asked to investigate whether there were any connections between the nature and quality of governance on the one hand, and the nature of social policies and the human rights situation on the other. This report presents the findings of this assessment of the governance scores in the light of the above-mentioned political economy analyses. The report is structured as follows: Firstly, after briefly describing the governance indictors used by the World Bank, we summarize the eleven countries’ scores on the various governance indicators. Secondly, we assess the evolution of governance in the eleven countries, by comparing the scores in the 2019 report with those from 2011. Thirdly, we summarize the findings of the political economy analyses of the eleven countries and discuss how they fit with the governance scores. Finally, we present the eleven countries’ expenditure on social policies, as reported in the ILOs World Social Protection Report, and the human rights situation for the partner countries, and then describe how these findings relate to the governance scores.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Governance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Norway
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Economics & Peace
  • Abstract: Rather than asking what businesses can do for peace, this study differentiates itself by focusing on what peace can offer businesses. The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) sees this as an important, but missing step in business analysis. In order for the private sector to engage with peacebuilding, investors first need to see the benefits of peace to their investment decisions. This work shows that economic performance can be predicted by movements in the same socio-economic developmental factors that affect peacefulness. These conditions are known as Positive Peace. The global economic impact of violence was $14.4 trillion in 2020. This is broadly equivalent to the entire economy of China. If humanity were to reduce violence by ten per cent per annum, the savings of $1.4 trillion would broadly equate to adding an economy the size of Russia’s or Brazil’s every year to the global fold. The burden of violence on an economy is self-evident. However, this report focusses on the converse perspective: countries that improve their underlying conditions, as gauged by IEP’s measures of peace, create the potential for a significant peace dividend for business.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Business , Peace, International Business
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Economics & Peace
  • Abstract: The 2021 report is the eighth edition of the Mexico Peace Index (MPI), produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It provides a comprehensive measure of peacefulness in Mexico, including trends, analysis and estimates of the economic impact of violence on the country. The MPI is based on the Global Peace Index, the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, produced by IEP every year since 2007. Mexico’s peacefulness improved by 3.5 percent in 2020. After four years of successive deteriorations, this marks a change in trend following the sharp increases in violence recorded between 2015 and 2018. This change can be traced to well before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homicide and firearms crime rates peaked in July 2018 and have since been gradually declining. Other crime rates began to fall in mid-2019, which also preceded the pandemic. While improvements were occurring prior to the onset of COVID-19, further reductions in specific types of violence in 2020 followed the implementation of public health measures and stay-at-home orders. Crimes typically associated with people’s everyday movements — such as robberies, assaults, kidnappings and extortion — all recorded notable improvements in 2020.
  • Topic: Crime, Economics, Violence, Peace
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Aleksandre Kvakhadze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The recent Covid19 pandemic has disrupted Georgia’s economy and social life. Among the regions suffering most from these disruptions is Marneuli municipality. During the first wave in the spring of 2020, the Georgian authorities introduced a strict lockdown in Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities. Several weeks of lockdown resulted in local farmers coming out in protest at being unable to sell their agricultural goods, an event which attracted the attention of the Georgian media. Other affairs in Marneuli that have received extensive media coverage are tensions or violent acts accompanying electoral campaigns, and the series of bride kidnappings and arranged marriages occurring in the rural communities of the region. The remainder of regional developments tend to be neglected by the national media, meaning wider Georgian society knows little about the social, political and cultural aspects of the region. This limited knowledge creates fertile soil for the forming of various stereotypes and clichés about the local multiethnic population. In fact, Marneuli municipality has been witnessing very dynamic ethno-political processes of late. Moreover, the region has big potential for further economic development, and a unique cultural heritage accommodating different ethnicities, among them Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, as well as several religious communities. Marneuli also represents an important regional transport junction connecting Georgia with Azerbaijan and Armenia.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Rural, Economic Development , COVID-19, Municipalities
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Caucasus, Georgia
  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report assesses the impact of Turkish-Qatari cooperation between 2002 and 2020 on conflict and geopolitical competition across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa based on close examination of its drivers. The report notes that neither ideological nor economic drivers adequately explain the recent blossoming of Turkish-Qatari relations. Converging political interests and pragmatism offer a more compelling explanation. On the one hand, Turkey aspires to play a regional leadership role and uses its cooperation with Qatar to strengthen its soft power claim to leadership of the Sunni world. On the other hand, Qatar seeks to ensure its territorial and dynastical safety from Saudi Arabia and its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain (the Quartet) – by working with Turkey, the recent thaw of the Al-Ula declaration notwithstanding. Turkish-Qatari collaboration is therefore best seen as a pragmatic partnership enabled by compatible geopolitical perspectives, particularly regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Geopolitics, Conflict, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jos Meester, Johannes Claes, Claire Elder, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report explores SME growth and resilience in the fragile Somali context during the COVID-19 pandemic, including its relation to wider political-economic developments. The pandemic has demonstrated how Somali businesses have continued to be resilient and at times even thrive during crisis, but it has also exposed the sizeable vulnerability associated with the Somali territories’ trade, import dependence and financing system. The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply and trans-shipment of goods. This has created shortages and price fluctuations for Somalia’s import-based economy and hampered the country’s payment system. It has also reduced remittances, buying power, access to finance and tax revenues. Shifts in funding streams have realigned political financing patterns and created price instability as political actors seek new ventures through which to move funds. Although the economic shock brought about by COVID-19 has not structurally changed the Somali political economy, it has exacerbated existing patterns of inequality. The contribution of the private sector to the COVID-19 response has likely supported a range of livelihoods throughout the Somali territories, yet the preferential access to governance and strong competitive position that allowed this also highlights a worrying level of inequality and market concentration, and raises questions regarding government legitimacy. It seems likely that the COVID-induced economic crisis has therefore reinforced rather than destabilised those dynamics that prevent small businesses from competing on an equal footing and fragile situations from developing and stabilising.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, COVID-19, Fragile Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia